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Siyu and Wei Photography: Nature at its best

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 2nd of August 2021

I'm happy to present you today, a couple and team of great photographers : Siyu and Wei.  They love nature and have a special passion for wildlife because of the mood and the stories behind every picture. They love travelling and exploring the wildness.  Let's discover their photographic world through this interview.


'Hi There'


Dear Siyu and Wei, please can you briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
We are Siyu Liu and Wei Du, a husband and wife team, living outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  We are both scientists developing new medicines in the pharmaceutical industry.  We enjoy travelling around the world and exploring the wildness and nature, such as the polar regions, Africa, Alaska, the Galapagos Islands and others; adding photography to our travel agenda and itinerary planning made each trip a special one. 

We had limited experiences using film SLR cameras.  After we acquired our first digital camera, the camera was a tool to simply record our kid’s activities and family trips.  A few years ago, the stunning beauty of nature during a trip to Iceland re-ignited our passion for photography and we started seriously studying photography, including post-processing using photoshop.




How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
It is natural for us to focus on nature and wildlife photography because of our love of nature and wildlife, and the destinations we travelled. We chose to travel with expert photographers as a quick way to learn and improve our photography, such as when we visited Kenya where we learned from one of the best wildlife photographers in Africa. We also went searching for polar bears in the Arctic with an award-wining photographer/film-maker of the BBC’s documentary series Blue Planet, and we visited the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic photographer.  The internet is another great resource for us to learn from other photographers.

Since was introduced to us by fellow photographers, it has become a very productive learning platform for us. We can study published photos, learn techniques, read journal articles, and submit our photos to get meaningful feedback from the reviewers and curators.  It became the place for us to share our work with others, too.


What first attracted you both to photography and furthermore please, describe your overall photographic vision.
We do not have an overall photographic vision per se.  We photograph everything, but we have a special passion with wildlife photography because of the mood and story in each photo.  We love to photograph the behaviour of wild animals. A mother and her baby are always great to show a moving and loving moment. Young animals or cubs are cute and playful, and they are fun to photograph.


'The look'



'A bear cub and its yummy sockey salmon tail'



'Mom is there'


Apart from some beautiful still life photographs and some aerial photographs, you're most drawn by Nature and Wildlife Photography?  Can you explain why ?
As we mentioned earlier, we love travel.  We travelled extensively each year during spring break when our son was in school.  After he left home for college, we had our first trip to Antarctica where we had a very special experience taking pictures of the wildlife. We were introduced to 1X after the trip and then we published our first photo from Antarctica there.


'Big Eye'

Since then, we have had many trips with a wildlife photography focus, exploring all types of wildlife photography, from land, water, boat, photo blind, or helicopter, day or night.  We are particularly interesting in showing a story with wildlife behaviour.  We try to capture emotion in our work.


'Bluefoot Booby'


'Black and Red'



'I want to fly'


What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Those are all important elements for a photographer, but the story and mood come first. Technical perfection enables a photographer to capture precise moments.  When we observed a special moment, such as the interactions between a mother and her baby, or actions between animals and birds, we captured the moment even when the lighting condition was not the best.  Advances in camera making technology and post-processing software have opened more room for those less ideal shooting conditions.


'Mother Elephant and Her Calf'



'A Mother's Love'



'I am hungry'


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
We are part of this big world, and we are there to capture the story and to share it with others. At the same time, we should be there for them when nature calls.  We participate in various fundraising activities and local organizations to provide our support for wildlife protection.


'When A Storm is Coming'


Do you carefully prepare the locations where you are intending to photograph?
The answers are Yes and No, Yes because we have ideas of what to photograph and a wish list of areas to visit. Our homework includes identifying locations and timings that provide the highest probability to achieve our goals.  Sometimes the location determines what we can photograph in a trip, and other times the subject matter determines where and when to visit a site.  We also read about the subject to be familiar with its behaviour in order to know what to expect.  But once we arrive at a location, we let nature play out. Being wildlife photographers, we cannot control what will happen, and so we patiently observe and let the wildlife surprise us. In fact, this unpredictability makes wildlife photography especially challenging and interesting.

For example, one day out in a zodiac inside the Arctic circle, we saw a polar bear hunting in front of a large glacier.  Incidentally a group of reindeer came to the same narrow path.  ‘What will happen?’ we quietly asked ourselves and quickly snapped the scene.


'A polar bear looking down at four reindeer' 

The tour guide commented after the fact that this was first time in her decade-long career in the Arctic that a polar bear and reindeer were captured in the same frame.

We always have dreamed of an image of penguins on ice jumping into the water.  In one of the Antarctica trips, we patiently observed penguins on ice and waited to capture the moment they jumped and got the shots we dreamed of.


'Ready, Jump'



What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
What software do you use to process your images?
What about your general work flow?
We use both Canon and Nikon cameras (DSLRs and mirror less), with long zoom or telephoto lenses (typically 400 mm or longer).
We use Adobe Bridge for file organization.
Adobe photoshop with a Nic Collection plugin is our primary post-processing software.
We start with the initial basic adjustment in Camera Raw then use photoshop for additional work if other adjustments are needed.
We also use Topaz AI Denoise, as it is sometimes more useful for processing wildlife photos that require a very high ISO setting (high noise level) due to the shooting conditions. 


What is your most important advice to a beginner in Nature and/or Wildlife Photography and how do you get started?
The most important advice we received from other fellow photographers is to enjoy it.  This will be our advice to others too.  We can have a perfect plan, but it is nature that determines what we may or may not photograph.  We enjoy the process and prepare for surprises. We practice at home as much as we can, and it improves our ability to catch the special moment when it presents itself.


Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
We enjoy the work from many great photographers, each of them has inspired us in a different way.  We review photos and articles in 1X regularly and follow many photographers on 1X.  We learned their approach and concepts though we do not follow a particular person’s style. One of the best things about wildlife photography is that each moment is unique.  We hope our work is unique as well.


'Flamingos and a Mysterious Creature on the Lake Magadi'


'Crossing Line'


Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
We do not have a specific direction and will continue to enjoy photographing whatever we encounter.  There are many other areas that we may want to explore.

Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Each photo we took is a special one for us and each one has a story behind it. It would be a long article to describe each in here. 

Is there anything else you wish to add  and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
We will continue improving our photography and refining our technique through more shooting, learning from the members and crew of 1X, using 1X to manage and publish our photos.  We are happy that we found 1X to be a home base to share our work with others.

Yvette, special thanks to you for your effort and support.
Thank you for the interview and the opportunity to share our experience.
We really appreciate your creative work.
All the best to the entire 1X family and always good light!

All pleasure is mine, Siyu and Wei.  I'm sure many readers will be very pleased too.
To end this fine interview with a lovely touch, I would like to show a few of your lovely still life photographs.


'Looking Forward to Spring'





Congratulations, Great work. Thanks for sharing
Such a Fantastic Photographs! Congratulation:)
Excellent work! Congratulations! Thanks for the look into your work!
Enjoying your fantastic images. Nice to know a little more of your drive. Thanks and congrats
great work, congrats!
Nice capture of those moments of wildlife in their elements and relationships. Excellent!
Bravo. Great work.
Truly extraordinary images, I love it, congrats !!!